That elusive peppery taste-NYT
- Phaedrus Jun 4, 2008 10:02 AM
Harold McGee is God.
Yeah, people tend to assume that everyone can taste what they can taste. But we all know, for example, that for a significant number of people cilantro tastes like soap. There are probably many, many compounds that some people can taste and others can't, or that taste different to different people.
He made a good point about testing the palates of people who work in kitchens. You wouldn't have a color-blind person working as a decorator, and obviously someone who can't tell if a dish has too much pepper shouldn't be working in a kitchen (or at least, should have their food tasted by someone else).
re: Ruth Lafler
How much restaurant food is spiced "to taste"? Usually every ingredient is exact. Even if you're winging it rules like "three grinds of pepper" should give you a consistent flavor. I see plenty of proprietors on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives who think they're hot stuff because they don't measure anything, but I'll bet they pay for it in inconsistent results.
Other kitchen rules:
Don't put the chilehead in charge of the buffalo wings.
Don't put a supertaster in charge of anything.